British Nations Cup star Robert Whitaker delivered another outstanding performance on the ultra-consistent Catwalk IV (Colman x Corleone) to take Friday's Ashford Farm CSI4* Bolesworth International feature four-star class.
The 32-year-old Yorkshireman triumphed after a jump-off contested by 21 combinations from eight countries in the 1.55metre class, sponsored by Cazenove Capital Management, collecting a £7,260 top prize.
Whitaker won the same Bolesworth class last year on another of his leading rides, USA Today, but this time it was Catwalk's turn in the spotlight, and the 12-year-old gelding did not disappoint.
They conquered a testing jump-off track in 42.09 seconds, edging out Italian challenger Lorenzo De Luca and Geisha van Orshof (Cabrio van de Heffinck x Parco) by just six hundredths of a second, while American Laura Kraut finished third on Nouvelle (Solitair x Contango), with Belgium's Jos Verlooy fourth aboard Sunshine (Diamant De Semilly x Hardi).
"He is on good form. Every show, he has been jumping well," said Whitaker, who won last year's Royal Windsor grand prix with Catwalk and was second behind Ireland's Dermott Lennon in the same competition a month ago.
"He was good in Rome a few weeks ago, jumping clear and then having four faults in the Nations Cup before finishing sixth in the grand prix, and then ninth at the St Gallen grand prix. "He will jump anything, really. There is never a course too big for him."
"I didn't really see anyone else go in the jump-off today. It was a case of you knew you had to do all the turns inside, and that really suited him."
Whitaker's form with Catwalk would suggest they are on course to mount a strong challenge for Great Britain team selection at August's European Championships in Aachen, Germany, where Britain will look to secure one of three qualifying places available for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. "He has never jumped in Aachen before, and it is a big atmosphere there," Whitaker added.
"I don't know who is going to be on the team for Hickstead and Dublin Nations Cups before the Europeans, but he has had good Nations Cup form this year and last year, so you never know."
And reflecting on the Bolesworth four-star experience, Whitaker said: "It is amazing what Nina (Bolesworth International owner and show president Nina Barbour) has done here."
"It is just fantastic for the sport in this country. Just to do this show, but then also do another show in Liverpool in January is amazing, really."
Source: Press release from Bolesworth International
This photo has been added to your cart !Your shopping cart »